Recovery and relapse are challenging words for those who live with substance abuse, recovery might seem like a dream for some, and relapse is something that those who are in recovery fear and work hard every single day to stay away from.
Understanding the high risk and danger of relapse can help those in recovery,
stay in recovery.
Why do people relapse?
Withdrawal is one the main reasons why people relapse, oftentimes the individuals don’t have the appropriate support therefore as soon as they feel the effects of withdrawal, the cravings become too strong and they give in to the substance. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can also last between 6 to 18 months, therefore making long term recovery seem impossible for some.
Mental health and well-being is also a reason for relapse, for those living with a mental illness and that do not have access to the appropriate medical care, the substance of choice is something they turn to, to help them cope with their inner demons. This unfortunately is a catch 22, as the substance they are using will actually make their mental health deteriorate long term. For so many substance users, they are trying to suppress depression, anger, bi-polar disorder, heal anxiety, PTSD and so much more, when really the best course of action for any of these mental health problems is therapy, support and sometimes medication.
A person's environment and people they are surrounded by are also a poor influence for relapse, but when an individual is trying to get clean, understanding that they have to also clean up the things around them, to ensure a relapse free future. This includes friends and family that abuse substances and letting them go, as well as getting a new home or temporary place to live that does not have the substance in sight, or any other substance that might trigger the individual.
The Dangers of Relapse
For so many living in sobriety, relapsing is a daily fear. Understanding the dangers associated with relapse might help an individual stay sober, daily. There are many scary things about relapsing, the main one is death.
When an individual relapses, often they abuse the substance more than they would have previously. This has to do with withdrawal, since the substance has lacked in their life for so long, the person feels the need to take too much of it, many times resulting in hospitalization or death.
Relapse will also trigger many mental, emotional and physical challenges, this will include intense feelings of shame, self-doubt and depression, thus causing the person to contemplate suicide. Relapse can also cause a person to lose control of their basic motor functions, especially since being sober for as long as they were, ultimately putting that person in harm's way, whether they are on the street, in an unsafe environment or similar.
There are many things that you can do to to minimize relapse including:
Self-Care: Taking care of yourself is number one when it comes to sobriety, self-love, meditation, doing things that you like to do, surrounding yourself with positive things, doing exercise, the list goes on. When you start to put yourself first and start taking care of yourself, love will always prevail over addiction.
Get Support: Surround yourself with people who will help you stay clean and will support you through this journey. These are people in support groups, friends and family that want to help you, finding a Higher Power and believing in your own sobriety.
New Environment: When you get clean, you want to make sure that you are in an environment that will not trigger you to abuse again. Stay in a sober house or stay with a friend or family member that will support you.
Therapy: Therapy will help with any mental and emotional challenges that you might live with that are triggers for your substance abuse. In a therapeutic setting you can freely speak about your life in a safe and non-judgemental environment so that you can live happily on a daily basis.
Coaching: Coaching will help you create a sober plan for your future, it will help you get back on track, get back into the working world, heal relationships and more.
Contact List: Create a contact list of people you can call in case you fear relapse, or you are experiencing hardship.
Forgiveness: Forgiveness will help you heal, it will help you with everything. Forgive yourself for your past, your decisions that might shame you and most importantly forgive yourself if you relapse. The journey you are going through is a tough one, and you can make it through.
Meditation: Meditation can help reduce stress, ease the mind and create inner peace with oneself. It can help with triggers, forgiveness and help you stay sober, daily!
Understand you are not alone: This is not a battle that you have to deal with alone, there are so many people in this world that are living with an addiction such as yourself, reach out to support groups and meet with people who can relate to you, and who can help you.
Know your triggers: Understanding your triggers will help you reduce relapse because you will know what to stay away from, and if you are triggered you can call someone for help!
If you or you know of someone who is struggling with relapse, please contact me at Lianne@LivingPotential.Today and we will come up with a recovery plan for you.
Understand that substance abuse is not your fault, and you can get sober,
and stay sober forever.